Posthumous Portrait of a Queen as Parvati

Period: Eastern Javanese period

Date: 14th century

Culture: Indonesia (Java)

Medium: Andesite

Dimensions: H. 80 in. (203.2 cm); W. 3 ft. 3 in. (99.1 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, 2000 Benefit Fund, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.407


Kings and queens were believed to have a divine origin, being human incarnations of gods on earth. It was thought that they were reunited at death with the deities from whom they originated. Posthumous commemorative royal portraits such as this one celebrate that moment coinciding with death when the temporal ruler is reintegrated with the original deity. In this case, an as yet unidentified historical queen is depicted as the Hindu goddess Parvati, the consort of Shiva.

She stands on Shiva's vehicle, the bull Nandi, and is flanked by her two children. Standing in an unusual yogic pose is Ganesha, the potbellied, elephant-headed god who controls obstacles; seated is Karttikeya, the god of war and general of the army of the gods.